Vice President Joe Biden would be well positioned to challenge the Republican presidential field, should he decide to get into the race.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll out on Monday showed Biden — who has not announced if he’ll join the race — faring far better than current Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in head-to-head matchups with top Republican presidential contenders.
The closest hypothetical matchup found Biden beating former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina 47% to 41%. Biden also beat former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) (48-40), real-estate tycoon Donald Trump (56-35), and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (49-41).
Clinton, on the other hand, lost head-to-head matchups with Fiorina and Carson, though and voters did prefer her to Trump and, more slightly, to Bush.
And the poll showed that Biden would be the most favourably viewed presidential candidate in either party if he were to enter the race. Overall, 40% of poll respondents said they viewed Biden favourably, compared with 28% who viewed him in a negative light.
The 12-point net-favourable rating put him higher than popular candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who would be a Democratic presidential rival, and Carson, and far ahead of Clinton, Bush, and Trump.
Other Republican presidential candidates, including the newly surging Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), were not included in the head-to-head matchups.
Politicians are generally viewed far more favourably before they enter the race — Clinton’s favourable ratings and support were extremely high during her tenure as secretary of state. But they have dipped as she returned to the political fray. More recently, her campaign has been hit with a summer-long series of negative headlines dealing with her email use as secretary of state.
Clinton has recently seen a dip in her overall support from Democrats, as Sanders has gained steam and some of her supporters signalled a preference in Biden.
If Biden decides not to run, Clinton would find herself with much better shape, at least in the Democratic primary. The poll found that Clinton would absorb the majority of Biden’s support. She would grab 53% of the Democratic vote in a two-way race with Sanders, who would garner 38% support.
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